The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has warned President Muhammadu Buhari to cut immediately the cost of governance in Nigeria.
Africa’s biggest economy has entered another recession, the worst in decades.
The rights group, in reaction, told Buhari to put the country’s resources at the service of the masses to enable them enjoy a good standing of living.
A letter dated 21 November, 2020, signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, said the economic crisis provides an opportunity to prioritise access of poor and vulnerable Nigerians to basic socio-economic rights, and to genuinely recommit to the fight against corruption.
It stressed that the nation cannot afford getting back to business as usual, and urged implementation of transparency and accountability measures would save money, address projected adverse human rights impacts of the recession, and fast-track the economic recovery process.
SERAP said it is not too late to take urgent steps that would put the country’s wealth and resources to work for the common good of all Nigerians.
The body decried that decades of mismanagement and corruption, and deep-seated deficiencies in public financial management have directly contributed to higher levels of borrowing and public debts, and consequently, the economic recession.
It lamented that successive governments have squandered the promise afforded by the country’s natural wealth and resources.
The letter read in part: “The paltry resources Nigeria invests in essential public goods and services that would benefit ordinary Nigerians can be partly explained by the high spending of public funds to finance a life of luxury for members of the National Assembly, state governors, and other powerful politicians.
“The country’s resources appear to have been used almost exclusively for the benefit of the political elites rather than on projects that would ensure the right to an adequate standard of living, the maximum welfare, prosperity, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality.
“SERAP is seriously concerned about the adverse consequences of the economic crisis on the human rights of poor and vulnerable Nigerians, including denying them access to essential public goods and services such as healthcare, education, clean water, and regular electricity supply.”
The organization urged Buhari to commence moves to cut spendings on government and officials.
SERAP added that if this doesn’t happen in 14 days, it shall take legal actions against the administration.